Legendary genre journeyman director Gordon Hessler (pictured above with Ray Harryhausen) has passed at the age of 83. Hessler, a German born, British-blooded and educated, Hollywood-based filmmaker, is most notable to FANGORIA readers for his interesting post-Roger Corman work for American International Pictures, with the failed new “Poe Cycle” kick-starters THE OBLONG BOX (with Christopher Lee and Vincent Price), MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (with Jason Robards and Herbert Lom) and the Poe flavored Vincent Price classic CRY OF THE BANSHEE, not to mention the utterly mad horror all-star opus SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN starring Price, Lee and Peter Cushing.
Outside of that late 1960s, early 1970s golden period of Gothic horror, Hessler’s most famous contribution to pop culture was his work helming the blazingly awful KISS feature, produced by cartoon kingpins Hanna-Barbera, KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK.
Originally lensed as a TV movie of the week, the bizarre amalgam of live KISS performances, hammy overacting (by both the band and villain Anthony Zerbe) and the unusual Magic Mountain setting was also released in Europe as an extended theatrical feature called ATTACK OF THE PHANTOMS (the version that appears on the KISSOLOGY VOL.2 DVD set). Part pop-art fantasy, part horror movie and part accidental comedy, the film practically defines the term “cult movie” and has an international legion of followers, both KISS fans and non alike.